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Old and New Contradictions: Opening Socialist Register 2022 Session—The Crisis of Centrism
Sun, February 20, 2022 @ 2:01 PM - 4:00 PM$4 – $39
Opening session of the Winter/Spring panels of authors who have presented essays in the current Socialist Register, No. 58.
Greg Albo An Introduction to The Crisis of Centrism, Socialist Register 58
Walden Bello At the Summit of Global Capitalism: the US and China
Simon Mohun Portrait of Neoliberalism: Rise of the One Percent
Samir Sonti The Crisis of US Labor, Past and Present
The stage is set well for Socialist Register No. 58 in the Preface by Greg Albo and Colin Leys: [In the midst of the] “current multi-dimensional crisis, the center-right consensus that was struck around the neoliberal policy regime has been steadily splintering, with a phalanx of far right and neo-fascist groups inserting themselves into electoral politics and gaining prominence ‘in the streets’ (not least in motley demonstrations against pandemic measures of any kind, from lockdowns to masking). The observation that capitalism is always characterized by just such economic and political polarizations has preoccupied – even haunted –socialist analysis from its very origins: in Marx’s and Engels’ memorable phrase of revolutionary optimism in The Communist Manifesto, ‘the more or less open civil war, raging within existing society, up to the point where that war breaks out into open revolution, and … lays the foundation for the sway of the proletariat’. In the much picked-over chapter in Marx’s Capital on ‘The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation’, the language is just as vibrant but now stark in its imagery: ‘The greater the social wealth, the functioning capital, the extent and energy of its growth, and therefore also the greater the absolute mass of the proletariat and the productivity of itslabor, the greater is the industrial reserve army…. Accumulation of wealth at one pole is, therefore, at the same time the accumulation of misery, the torment of labor, slavery, ignorance, brutalization at the opposite pole, i.e. on the side of the class that produces its own product as capital.’
The first panel of the series addresses a number of the new contradictions emerging within global capital during this period —with the centrists attempting to right the neoliberal ship of state ly presenting more crises and a more defiant hard right.
WALDEN BELLO writes from within the social movements of Southeast Asia and from the Philippines, a particularly auspicious location from which to evaluate the growing rivalry between the US and China. His essay, “At the Summit of Global Capitalism” provides a judicious assessment of the growing polarizations and contradictions in the inter-state system as the phase of US unilateral power gives way to a much more variegated world order.
It is appropriate that Socialist Register 58 begins with SIMON MOHUN’s “Portrait of Contemporary Neoliberalism”. With the massive growth of inequalities in income and wealth being one of the most commonly agreed-upon polarizations today, Mohun argues that most ‘important for understanding the structure and dynamic of neoliberalism has been the large and sustained increase in income share’ accruing to the richest one per cent. A movement to begin radical state action breaking with neoliberalism is imperative.
SAMIR SONTI addresses the prospects and strategies for rebuilding a labor movement in the US after Trumpism in his essay on the ongoing crisis for US labor. The challenge in rebuilding a union movement is in organizing campaigns keeping a focus on aligning the interests of the workers who provide essential services with the interests of the communities that depend on those workers. He points out the dangers of having labor campaigns slip into spending their energies aligning with the interests of the Biden administration instead of the communities that they are engaged with.
WALDEN BELLO is currently the International Adjunct Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York at Binghamton and Co-Chairperson of the Bangkok-based research and advocacy institute Focus on the Global South.
SIMON MOHUN is Professor Emeritus of Political Economy at Queen Mary, University in London.
SAMIR SONTI has worked as a union organizer in the US and now teaches at the City University of New York School of Labor and Urban Studies.